1) I do NOT want to legalize drugs so that I can use them. I can actually say I have never used any of the drugs currently categorized as illegal. (My parents will be relieved to hear that) I am not a closet pothead who is chomping at the bit (or joint) to toke it up the day marijuana is legalized. You won’t see me chanting “Free The Weed”. I have no emotional attachment to the drug. I don't even want to wear hemp clothes. Like a lot of Americans, I do occasionally consume alcohol.
2) I do NOT believe that legalizing drugs will solve our nation’s, nor our species’, problems with drugs. It may actually increase drug use and possibly addiction, at least for a time. However, I do believe that it will improve or even solve many of our society’s problems with crime, violence, national security, foreign affairs, immigration, governmental overspending, invasion of privacy, and erosion of our civil liberties. And I powerfully believe that those problems have reached levels of severity wherein it is better to choose the problems of drug abuse and addiction and deal with them outside the context of the criminal justice system.
3) I do NOT believe that abusing any substance, including drugs, is “good.” But by the same token, I don’t believe that doing so is necessarily “bad” or “evil.” The badness comes from the effects of the behaviors of drug abuser on their family, their neighbors, and their community. Human history demonstrates that humans enjoy altering their minds with substances, for medicinal, spiritual, recreational, and social purposes, even discounting chemical addiction behaviors. Rather than call it evil, we should accept this aspect of ourselves and responsibly and openly learn how to manage it.
So, why am I outspoken on this topic? Well...
1) Maybe, and I emphasize maybe, I might actually change the opinion of a person or two. But that is unlikely. Changing a person’s opinion about anything is almost impossible through mere rhetoric. Usually, it takes a significant, direct life event to move a person to a change in their beliefs. But hey, it could happen. It’s more likely that I may influence a few people who have just never previously thought about the topic at length. People are going to start having to confront this issue as the mainstream media has finally taken up the topic, and as it starts to affect each of us personally through rising burglary and robbery rates all across the nation. And of course, initiatives to legalize at least marijuana are springing up on ballots everywhere.
2) Mostly, I simply hope to publicize that this is one of the most significant issues confronting and hampering our nation, and the world, at this time. By introducing the topic into daily dialogues and showing how it is connected to so many current issues, I hope to help bring the subject of drug legalization into mainstream discourse, and to make others feel comfortable talking about it without feeling like they’ll be labeled a druggie. There are many, many reasons for people of all political persuasions and all walks of life to support the decriminalization of drugs.
3) I hope to provide an example of a responsible citizen, a lawyer, a father, a community-oriented person, and a non-user, who neverthless believes that decriminalization is the best thing to do for the preservation and improvement of our society. To some degree, I feel I also have a special responsibility to speak out as a lawyer. Lawyers should take the lead in advocating for changes in the law they believe necessary to preserve our nation’s governance by law, our judicial system, our prison system, our Constitutional rights, and the respectability and safety of our law enforcement officers.
By providing such an example, I hope to create an atmosphere where other lawyers, judges, police officers, and especially politicians can feel confident expressing their true beliefs - because in my informal conversations with such people, I believe many have come to the same conclusion as I have. They just don’t think it’s “safe” to speak out yet.
4) I hope to increase awareness that this topic is not one to merely shrug your shoulders about. It affects everyone. Its tendrils creep out into every area of our lives as Americans, even if you have never had an issue with drugs, nor even any family member or friend with addiction issues. You may not realize how embedded in our society this hopeless effort has become and how many people’s careers and how many industries, political decisions, and even wars are based upon it.
For me, therefore, increasing awareness, establishing importance, and creating an atmosphere of “safety” about the topic is enough. From there, I have every confidence that the facts and the crushing economic burden of the situation will inexorably lead to decriminalization. The question is only how much longer we hold on to the failed policies and how much further damage is inflicted upon our society before we muster the courage for change.